By Kyle Stanish, PhD, SE, PE, Klein & Hoffman
As the long-awaited spring weather begins to enter our forecast, so too does another often loathed thought – spring cleaning. While usually reserved for our homes, this annual tradition should extend to our parking structures throughout the city as well. After months of being exposed to the harsh winter elements, these structures need a bit of spring cleaning. Here are the top five steps you should consider to ensure your parking structure is ready for spring and beyond.
- Power washing. Although sand and salt keep our roads drivable in the winter, they do quite a number on our parking structures. Now is a great time to clean and power wash your floors. Make sure the company you hire is aware of and complies with all local EPA requirements for managing run-off. They should also be able to recommend and use environmentally safe detergents. Additionally, don’t forget to remove any oil or grease buildup left from vehicles from the prior season.
- Clear floor drains and piping. With spring comes rain showers, and the water that comes in to your structure also needs to get out. Thoroughly examine your drains and piping to ensure everything is clean and clear, and also check any sand traps and oil/water separators (triple basins) in the facility.
- Evaluate seasonal damage. A winter of snow plowing can lead to damage, commonly including curbs and expansion joints. Use this as a reminder for next year to require rubber-tipped blades or spacers on the plows, and have the plows approach expansion joints at an angle. In the more near-term, also check for leaks throughout your structure. Water dripping onto cars below or seeping into the concrete and causing corrosion damage is cause for future issues.
- Reaffirm safety. Ensuring safety during spring cleaning and throughout the year is always a best practice. Take the time to evaluate all guardrails and vehicle barriers that may have been damaged over the winter. Also schedule an alarm systems evaluation with a professional to access fire safety devices, carbon monoxide monitoring alarms, security stations and illuminated exit signs. Furthermore, check for all trip and fall hazards – which are far too common and increase liability exposure – ranging from spalled concrete to uneven floors.
- Brighten the aesthetics. Strive to make your structure a more attractive and welcoming place to park. Make sure to clean light fixtures and replace bulbs, and paint exposed steel and parking spaces. Often times, doing so can extend the lifespan of the structure.
These tips will certainly improve your structure, but at the end of the day, garages last longer when a plan is in place to conduct the necessary maintenance to prevent surprises and reduce long-term costs. Now is a great time to be proactive and take the right steps to keep your structure in good condition – now and in the future.
About the author: Kyle Stanish, PhD, SE, PE, is senior associate and parking restoration practice lead at Klein & Hoffman, structural engineers and architects and BOMA member.